For students affected by school closings and colocations, a feeling of safety will be a key factor in their successful transition to a new school. That's why CPS has created a comprehensive Student Safety Transition Plan – a collaborative effort that will help ensure all children have a safe transition to their welcoming schools come fall.
"Throughout this process, we will work to ensure the safety and security of our students while improving their quality of education," said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. "CPS has made tremendous gains in creating positive learning environments, but we cannot do this work alone. By working in lockstep with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and our community partners, we will meet our commitment to parents and students to provide a safe and smooth transition for all students."
School-specific safety plans, developed in partnership with the CPD, will include factors such as neighborhood conditions, the distance between schools, and an analysis of other safety risks such as busy streets and intersections.. CPS will also collaborate with organizations such as the Safe Passage Program, which puts adults on the ground to support and monitor students as they travel to and from school. The District plans to expand the Safe Passage Program during transition to ensure that this service is provided to every welcoming school.
"This is one of our cornerstone strategies to making sure our children are safe on their way to school,"
said Jadine Chou, Chief Safety and Security Officer for CPS. "These are people who know the community, who live in the community, and they work very closely with the families already, so the children are familiar with them and are comfortable with them."
In order to create a nurturing learning environment for new students, CPS' will also work with each welcoming school to provide additional supports to develop a support strategy specific to the needs of its families and school communities at new welcoming schools. Safety supports include extra security officer and additional training for security personnel; expanded and improved safety technology; orientation and student/family integration events during the summer to introduce and welcome new students before the school year begins; interventions and student support groups as well as additional social emotional supports that help students build their conflict resolution skills.
Along with Safe Passage and the CPD, CPS will work with various sister agencies, including the Department of Family and Support Services, to help all students make a safe and seamless transition to their welcoming schools. And because the District values the input of all of its stakeholders, feedback from over 20,000 parents and community members will continue to inform the safety planning process.
"We understand that some parents may be uneasy about what's about to happen with regard to school actions," said Jadine Chou. "We believe we have the right plans in place, but we will be continuing to work with families and community stakeholders to refine these plans and make adjustments as necessary."